A Brief History
On September 9, 1850, in the middle of the California Gold Rush, California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state of the United States. The second largest state at the time until the admission of Alaska, when it fell to third, California is currently the most populous U.S. state and has claim to many other reasons why it might be the greatest state.
The state that gave us Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the politicians Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Nixon, California also gives us world class wines and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat. California is also blessed with mountains, beaches, an incredibly scenic highway, Beverly Hills, surfer dudes and Valley girls.
Speaking of politicians, Californians even re-elected their former governor Jerry Brown back into office in 2011 after he had previously served as governor from 1975 to 1983, an incredible 28 years between terms! When it comes to electing public figures, Californians seem to have a special place in their hearts for actors and elected B-movie actor Ronald Reagan as governor before he went on to win the race for the White House. In recent years, California has become more and more left in its leanings, although in 2003 voters ousted the Democratic governor Gray Davis and inserted former body builder and action film hero Arnold “The Austrian Oak” Schwarzenegger in his place. Arnold, often beset by claims of sexual harassment, turned out to have fathered a child out of wedlock with his maid, which put an end to all remaining political aspirations. When compared to Richard Nixon, however, former Senator from California and disgraced President of the United States, Arnold does not look that bad. Other performers have also been elected to office, with Sonny Bono and Clint Eastwood among them.
In terms of sports, California boasts an incredible array of professional teams: including 3 National Football League (NFL) teams; 5 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams; 4 National Basketball Association (NBA) teams and 1 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team; 3 National Hockey League (NHL) teams; and 3 pro soccer teams. College sports is also big business there, with major schools being UCLA and USC.
California is the agricultural leader of the the U.S., and produces half of the nation’s fruit. The U.S. used to get its pistachios from Iran, but after the 1979 unpleasantness, Californian producers provided this service.
The Golden State is also home to many major U.S. military installations.
In one statistic not to be proud of, though, it is also home to one third of all Americans on welfare!
Caucasians (whites) make up 57% of the population and Mexicans 31%. Obviously Spanish is the second most spoken language in California, but can you guess the third most spoken language? It is Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.
Los Angeles has replaced Chicago as the second largest American city and together with Hollywood and San Francisco is renowned for its colorful characters.
Question for students (and subscribers): What is your favorite place in California? Who is your favorite Californian? Please share your California stories in the comments section below this article.
For another interesting event that happened on September 9, please see the History and Headlines article: “10 Times Slaves Rose Up Against Their Masters.”
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For more information, please see…
California Poets in the Schools. C is for California: Written by Kids for Kids (See My State). WestWinds Press, 2008.
Friedman, Mel. The California Gold Rush (True Books). Childrens Pr, 2010.